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New Australian Government Department Changes

A new home page for the Department of Home Affairs has been launched at www.homeaffairs.gov.au. Visitors to the page are informed that the new Department was formally established on 20 December 2017. To access immigration information, go to ‘About Us’ and then to ‘Indivduals and Travellers’ tab.

The following changes to the Ministry have also been made:

  • Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection – The Hon Peter Dutton MP
  • Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs – The Hon Alan Tudge MP
  • Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity – The Hon Angus Taylor MP
  • Assistant Minister for Home Affairs – The Hon Alex Hawke MP

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28
Dec 2017
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“Pre-announcement” from Department of Home Affairs

DHA released the following statement prior to Christmas:

 

“The Economic and Skilled Visa Program Branch intends to publish a new edition of our Skilled Visa eNews in early-to-mid January 2018 – with advice regarding:

  • updates to the skilled occupation lists following the most recent six monthly review by the Department of Employment; and
  • other current ‘hot’ issues.

 

But before the end of 2017, we just wanted to give you a brief ‘heads up’ in email format about some important new initiatives that we will be commencing and/or are scheduling for implementation in early March 2018.  

 

We hope that these initiatives will help streamline processing of temporary skilled work visas and contribute to reduced processing times, particularly for lower risk applications.  They include:

  1. implementing auto-approval of complete streamlined lower-risk nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors;
  2. a new streamlined ‘renewal process’ for existing sponsors – that is, a shorter application form to fill out and possible auto-approval of such sponsorship applications;
  3. the release of a new online form that sponsors (or agents on their behalf) can use to advise the Department of certain changes of circumstances for the purposes of complying with their obligations and/or update their details;
  4. new online forms for the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa;
  5. a complete review of existing subclass 457 correspondence to ensure that TSS correspondence templates (and subclass 457 – where possible) from March 2018 onwards are easier to use and understand;
  6. development of new Procedural Instructions (PI) to:
  • cover both TSS and PESE (subclasses 186 and 187) application processing in the context of skilled occupation lists; and
  • provide additional guidance on regulations 1.13A ‘adverse information’ and 1.13B ‘associated with’; 
  1. revised approach to managing incomplete applications to reduce processing times for complete applications, which will commence in the new year.  

 

Note: this revised approach will involve refusing applications assessed as not meeting a legislative requirement at the initial assessment stage (other than ‘genuineness’), due to a lack of required supporting evidence, where:

  • no natural justice obligations apply; and 
  • more than two calendar days have passed since the application was lodged.  

It will not include certain cases, for example where:

  • health and character documentation is still pending;
  • a related application that must be finalised first remains pending (e.g. it is a nomination application and there is a pending sponsorship application); or
  • a reasonable and satisfactory explanation is attached to the application in ImmiAccount outlining reasons for incompleteness by an applicant (or agent on their behalf), who does not have a history of lodging incomplete applications.

 

We look forward to sharing more details of these initiatives with the agent community as we get closer to implementation. We will continue working closely with you to facilitate smooth implementation of the above as well as the important reforms to skilled visas which were announced by the Government in April 2017.  In the meantime, we wish you and your staff all the best for the festive season and the new year. Exciting times ahead!

 

Regards

Economic and Skilled Visa Program Branch

Visa and Citizenship Management Division

Visa and Citizenship Services Group

Department of Home Affairs”

 

 

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Dec 2017
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457 visa changes

The immigration department has announced sweeping changes to the Temporary Business (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa scheme which will have implications for those seeking to apply for sponsorship and Australian Permanent Residence….

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Jul 2017
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Jul 2017
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Summary of 457, 186 and 187 changes.

  • Any 457 sponsorship, nomination or visa applications that are NOT listed in the relevant Instrument IMMI 17/040  (check any notes against your occupation) and NOT decided by 18th April 2017 will no longer be able to be approved. Refund of DIBP application fees may be available.
  • Any new 457 applications lodged from 19 April 2017 onwards will have to have their occupation on the STSOL or MLTSSL occupation lists.
  • If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the STSOL list, it can only be granted for 2 years. There will be one (only) further extension allowed after that for another 2 years. You will not be allowed to apply for a permanent 186/187 visa under that occupation if it is on the STSOL.
  • If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the MLTSSL list, it can be granted for 4 years. You will be able to be apply for a permanent 186/187 visa after 3 years on a 457 visa if that company decides to nominate you.
  • From March 2018 the new TSS visa will have replaced the 457 visa. You will need to have 2 years work experience before applying and your occupation will have to be on the STSOL or MLTSSL lists. If you are on the STSOL list you will also have to show you only want to stay in Australia temporarily.
  • From March 2018 you need to have your occupation on the MLTSSL occupation list to apply for company/employer sponsored permanent residence. You will also need to commit to working for the company for 3 years, have an IELTS of 6+ and be under 45 years of age.

Some consequences of this:

  1. Occupations such as cook and restaurant manager are on the STSOL list. While you can still be sponsored for 2 years by a restaurant on the 457 visa and gain another 2 year extension, you can no longer apply for a permanent visa unless it is added to the MLTSSL list for you being in a designated regional area.
  2. Retail manager is still available in regional areas for the 187 visa at the moment. But from March 2018 this will not be the case, as this occupation is not on the MLTSSL list.
  3. Most student graduates will not be eligible for temporary or permanent company sponsorship after March 2018 as you require at least 2 years FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE first.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration confirmed that existing 457 visa holders (as of 18 April 2017) will still be able to apply for a Permanent visa and will not be affected by these changes. (See News.com.au article)

Timeline of future 457 changes are:

from 19 April 2017 – 216 occupations removed and 59 others restricted, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed, validity period for occupations on STSOL 2 years.

from 01 July 2017 – English salary exemption $96,400 to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory penal clearance certificates.

before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

from March 2018 – 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term(2 years) and Medium-Term stream(4 years).

Timeline of future 186/187 changes are:

from 19 April 2017 – CSOL condensed, 216 occupations removed, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed as STSOL and MLTSSL.

from 01 July 2017 – review of STSOL and MLTSSL, IELTS 6 required in each component, changes in age (DE stream 45 years old, no change to TRT).

before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

from March 2018 – the MLTSSL will apply to ENS/RSMS with additional regional occupations, Market salary rate will apply and meet TSMIT, eligibility period for PR extended from 2 to 3 years, at least 3 years’ work experience required, under 45 years of age, contribution towards training fund.

27
Apr 2017
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Changes to Occupations Lists – effect on 457 & other visas

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From March 2018 you need to have your occupation on the MLTSSL occupation list to apply for company/employer sponsored permanent residence. You will also need to commit to working for the company for 3 years, have an IELTS of 6+ and be under 45 years of age.

Please note that the work commitment of 3 years, the requirement to have an IELTS of 6+ and the requirement to be under 45 years of age will apply from 1 July 2017 not March 2018.

The requirement to have an occupation on the MLTSSL occupation list will still apply from March 2018.

The government has advised that a package of reforms will apply to Citizenship applications received on or after 20 April 2017. The Government has also advised that the new Citizenship legislation for these reforms will not be introduced immediately but will be introduced by the end of 2017.

The package of reforms includes the following:

  • Increase in general residence requirement to a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to application for citizenship
  • Need to demonstrate competent English prior to sitting the citizenship test
  • Strengthening the Australian values statement  to include reference to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
  • Strengthen the test for Australian citizenship with the addition of new test questions about Australian values, privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
  • Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing documentation to the effect that people who can work are working, or are actively looking for work or seeking to educate themselves; that people are contributing to the community by being actively involved in community or voluntary organisations; that people are properly paying their taxes and ensuring their children are being educated and  criminal records and adherence to social security laws will also be relevant
  • Strengthening the Pledge of commitment in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to refer to allegiance to Australia and extending the requirement for individuals over 16 years of age to make the Pledge of commitment to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.
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Apr 2017
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Government announces 457 visas to be abolished

The Prime Minister has announced today that the Government is abolishing 457 visas, to be replaced with a new temporary visa with added requirements, including previous work experience, better English language skills and labour market testing. A new training fund will also be established.

The Minister for Immigration, Mr Peter Dutton, has indicated that there will be a temporary skills shortage visa with two streams – a Short Term stream for a two-year visa with no permanent residence outcome at the end of that. There will also be a Medium Term stream. This will target higher skills, will have a shorter skills occupation list and will be for a period of 4 years. This stream can be applied for either offshore or onshore.

There will also be significant changes to the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas, including the subclass 457 visa commencing from 19 April 2017. Click here to access the updated Skilled Lists.

For those people currently on a 457 visa, there will be grandfathering arrangements and they will continue under the conditions of that visa.

The Minister has also flagged changes to work experience and labour market testing.

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018

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Apr 2017
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Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 visa

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Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 visa. Purpose. The purpose of this fact sheet is to advise the general public about the scope and implementation timeframes for the reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme. The reforms include abolishing the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa (457 visa) and replacing it with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018. The TSS will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers. Implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and be completed by March 2018. What is changing? Changes from April 2017 From 19 April 2017, for the existing 457 visa: – Occupation lists: The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa will be significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted. – Of the 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia (e.g. occupations relating to farming and agriculture). – The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will also be renamed as the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment. – The other occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will contain occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning to the Government’s longer term training and workforce strategies. – A separate fact sheet about the occupation lists’ changes will be issued. – Validity period: The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years. Fact sheet one: Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Purpose The purpose of this fact sheet is to advise the general public about the scope and implementation timeframes for the reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme. The reforms include abolishing the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa (457 visa) and replacing it with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018. The TSS will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers. Implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and be completed by March 2018. What is changing? Changes from April 2017 From 19 April 2017, for the existing 457 visa: – Occupation lists: The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa will be significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted. – Of the 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia (e.g. occupations relating to farming and agriculture). – The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will also be renamed as the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment. – The other occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will contain occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning to the Government’s longer term training and workforce strategies. – A separate fact sheet about the occupation lists’ changes will be issued. – Validity period: The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years. The Medium-Term stream will include the following criteria: – Renewal: Capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years. – Occupation lists: o For non-regional Australia – the MLTSSL will apply. o For regional Australia – the MLTSSL will apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers. – English language requirements: a requirement of a minimum of IELTS 5 (or equivalent test) in each test component. Eligibility criteria for both streams will include: – Work experience: at least two years’ relevant work experience. – Labour market testing (LMT): LMT will be mandatory, unless an international obligation applies. – Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold requirements. 1 – Character: Mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided. – Workforce: A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers. – Training requirement: a strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers. The detailed policy settings for several of these requirements will be finalised through the implementation process. Further details on these requirements to inform stakeholders will be available in due course. Why are these changes being made? These measures will sharpen the focus of Australia’s employer sponsored skilled migration programmes to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs, increase the quality and economic contribution of skilled migrants and address public concerns about the displacement of Australian workers. Who is affected? Current 457 visa applicants and holders, prospective applicants, businesses sponsoring skilled migrants and industry. Existing 457 visas will continue to remain in effect. 457 visa applicants that had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017, and whose application had not yet been decided, with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees. More information More information about these reforms is available on the Department’s website at www.border.gov.au.

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Apr 2017
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Have a question about a visa or sponsorship? Get in touch here.
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Business and Skilled Migration Queensland (BSMQ) has announced a temporary suspension for the acceptance of all applications for Queensland Skilled Visa Nominations under the State Nominated scheme Subclasses 190 and 489, due to having reached their DIBP allocated ceiling.
Applicants who have a paid, unfinalised application with BSMQ can choose either to remain in the queue OR request a refund. EOIs submitted with SkillSelect that have not yet been considered, will no longer be valid. Applicants will be required to resubmit an EOI once the application process has been reopened. There may also be changes made to the Queensland Skilled Occupation list. Only EOIs meeting new criteria will be considered. BSMQ will advise shortly as to when the nomination process will reopen.

12
Apr 2017
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Recent news and legislative changes

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Have a question about a visa or sponsorship? Get in touch here.
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Immigration risk ratings for countries and providers will be updated on 31 March 2017. These updated ratings will also be reflected in the Document checklist tool from this date. The next update to the immigration risk ratings will occur in September 2017.

Visa applications for students who receive partial or full funding under a training scheme approved by the Commonwealth government will be considered to be “Commonwealth Sponsored”. The VAC is waived. Applications that are incorrectly identified as Commonwealth sponsored will be treated as invalid. Any student identifying as “Commonwealth Sponsored” must provide evidence of their scholarship or Commonwealth funding.

New subclass 407 and its nomination eligibility types including: (a) workplace-based training for registration; (b) structured workplace based training to enhance skills in an eligible occupation and (c) training promoting capacity building overseas.

Legislative Instrument – IMMI 17/011 – F2017L00266 – Migration Regulations 1994 – Arrangements for Student Visa Applications 2017/011. This Instrument specifies the form, place and manner for lodging an Item 1222 Student (Temporary) (Class TU) visa application for subclasses 500 and 590. It revokes IMMI 16/017 (F2016L00630). It specifies form 157N for the purposes of Item 1222(1) to be provided as part of an application by applicants who are under 18 at the time of application and intend to reside with a parent, a person who has custody of the student, or a suitable relative.

Legislative Instrument – IMMI 17/012 – F2017L00267 – Migration Regulations 1994 – Evidence of financial capacity for SC 500 and 590 2017/12. This Instrument revokes IMMI 16/018 (F2016L00639) and specifies the evidence required to demonstrate sufficient funds  to meet the costs and expenses of applicants during intended stay and for each member of the family  who will be in Australia. It further specifies the following:

  • de facto partner income of Primary applicant
  • evidence of financial capacity –  to meet the costs of the nominating student’s course fees, travel expenses and living costs (SC 590)
  • pro rata amounts for annual living costs – where intended stay is less than 12 months,
  • Letter of support regarding sufficient funds from either Dept of Foreign Affairs or Dept of Defence where students are sponsored by either of these departments

Legislative Instrument – IMMI 17/013 – F2017L00269 – Migration Regulations 1994 – Migration Regulations 1994 – Evidence of Intended Course of Study for subclass 500. This Instrument revokes IMMI 16/027 (F2016L00650) and specifies the following relevant evidence for each of the applicant’s intended courses of study or activities:

  • CoE number(not cancelled or revoked) in the relevant field in the application form OR
  • Letter of offer(not cancelled or revoked) – where no CoE issued, and applicant is onshore, to be attached to the application OR
  • Letter of support (for Foreign Affairs, Defence students) OR
  • An AASES form (for secondary exchange students) OR
  • Letter from education provider (requiring applicant to remain in Australia during marking of postgraduate thesis)
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Mar 2017
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